January 7th, 2008 12:48 EST
World Chronicle: January 7
KHARTOUM, Sudan. As the eyes of the world are focused on Kenya, a new conflict may soon break out on the Sudanese and Chadian border. The president of Chad announced on Saturday that his army might chase rebels in Sudan, should they seek shelter there. Quoted by Agence France Press, President Idriss Deby said, “We are going to destroy them in their nest inside Sudan... We're going to make them eat dust inside Sudan.” The government in Khartoum replied that any attack on its territory would be met with a quick response.
Last week eight Sudanese soldiers were killed in a clash with Chadian forces in Darfur. Both sides accuse one another of fueling aggression.
NAIROBI, Kenya. After days of violent clashes between Kenya's tribes, the streets of Nairobi, the capital, seem desolate, but the situation is far from stable. Although both President Mwai Kibaki and his main political opponent, Raila Odinga, expressed their readiness for negotiations, neither camp is willing to concede defeat. Kibaki said on Sunday that he supported the idea of creating the government of national unity, which would work until peace was brought back to Kenya. Odinga rejected the offer, calling on his supporters to hold more rallies, although the government had warned the police would quell any opposition demonstrations. He later backed away amid fears further rallies could bring more bloodshed.
According to the Associated Press, around 250,000 people have been displaced since tribal clashes began last week. The death toll is said to have reached as many as 500 people, most of them casualties of fights that took place in the countryside. It is hard to point at any one tribe as responsible for the violence – among the victims are members of both Kikuyu and Luo, the tribes of Kibaki and Odinga, respectively.
CARACAS, Venezuela. It seems that, contrary to his wishes, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's country will not turn into a socialist utopia any time soon. Faced with strong criticism from abroad and a diminishing position in Venezuela – due to widespread corruption and high inflation – Chavez is going to look back at his past policies and fix those that have failed. As the Associated Press cites the mercurial president on Sunday, he was “forced to reduce the speed of the march” and “accept reality.” It can mean that the process of nationalization of private companies may significantly slow down, in addition to some vast and expensive social services being scrapped.
President Hugo Chavez is not the first socialist leader disappointed with his reforms. It is worth remembering that, even as staunch a Marxist as Lenin, he allowed private business to operate in Russia when it turned out that the planned economy had left millions of Russians starving and jobless.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan military forces informed on Monday that they had shot as many as 22 Tamil Tiger rebels in a number of attacks that were launched last weekend. It means that the number of anti-governmental militants killed this year has already reached almost 100. The same source said that the army had lost three soldiers.
On Friday, the Sri Lankan government asked the Scandinavian mediators to leave the country, as the peace process they helped to craft was dead. The conflict between the central authorities and the Tamil Tiger group broke out in 1972 and has claimed over 60,000 lives.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. At least eight pro-government tribesmen were killed in two violent encounters with Islamic groups. According to Agence France Press, the culprits belonged to the Uzbek militia, traditionally antagonistic towards President Musharraf. The attacks took place in villages on the border with Afghanistan.
TBILISI, Georgia. In the early presidential election Saturday, the incumbent head of state, Mikhail Saakashvili, received a little over 50 percent of the vote and secured his second term. Although international observers praised the election as fairly democratic, the opposition leaders called their supporters to stage a protest against a “rigged election.” In the highly contested election, six contenders, all of them running on an anti-governmental ticket, challenged Saakashvili.
Saakashvili came to power in 2004, supported by the majority of Georgians who were disappointed with communist-era apparatchiks. Educated in the United States, the young politician quickly became a favorite of the West, but at home, his support crumbled when his economic reforms did not bear positive results. In November and December 2007, a wave of protests led by Saakashvili's former allies swept through Tbilisi, the capital, and other major cities. Faced with fierce opposition at home and growing pressure abroad, the president had no room to maneuver and called an early election.
BAGHDAD, Iraq. As many as 20 people could have been killed on Monday in a series of bombings across Baghdad. In the first one, two suicide bombers detonated themselves in front of a government office in the northern part of the capital, killing between six and 14 people and wounding over 20. The death toll rose when three other bombs exploded in Baghdad. According to the Associated Press, it these attacks died five civilians.
All the bombings were aimed at Sunni Iraqis, regarded as American allies. Although security in Iraq has improved significantly since last year's surge, anti-governmental and anti-American attacks have taken place on a daily basis.